“Drag It Through The River” Burgers (A.K.A. Rosemary-Thyme Au Jus Dunked Mushroom and Jarlsberg Burgers with Hickory-Smoked Bacon and Horseradish Sauce)

Pairs well with:

Cabernet Sauvignon

This rich red easily complements your homemade chicken dishes, red meats, game, and mildly seasoned pastas.

Don’t be surprised if the juice from this burger rolls down your arm, but I’m sure you’ll be forgiving when you take your first bite. It starts with a layer of sautéed mushrooms and onions in a red wine and butter sauce. It’s topped with a juicy all-beef patty draped with melted nutty Jarlsberg cheese. Yes, bacon comes next. Hickory-smoked and thick cut. And the toasted Kaiser roll that sandwiches all these components is slathered with a creamy horseradish sauce for a spicy kick.

What makes this burger really unique, though, is that it is “dragged through the river,” the river being an au jus sauce made right on the grill with fresh thyme, rosemary, and good red wine, among other ingredients. I was inspired to do this with my burger after watching a food show recently about Italian beef sandwiches made in Chicago where they drag them through a “river” of gravy/sauce. I had a light bulb moment and I knew that that would make my already fantastic mushroom and Swiss burger absolutely over-the-top delicious. No, the burger doesn’t get soggy or mushy, so no worries that it will fall apart. The Kaiser roll is firm enough to stay together, yet soft enough to soak up just enough of the au jus for a juicy explosion with each bite. This burger should be served with napkins–lots and lots of napkins. All other burgers want to be this burger when they grow up. It’s that good.


Au Jus:
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon
6 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
Horseradish Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
12 slices thick-cut hickory smoked bacon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces fresh button mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces fresh baby bella mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon
Other ingredients:
Vegetable or olive oil for brushing on grill rack
8 ounces sliced Jarlsberg cheese, at room temperature for easier melting
6 large Kaiser rolls, split
4 tablespoons melted butter, for brushing buns


Preheat a gas grill to medium high.

Combine all of the ingredients for the au jus in a large Dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot over direct heat on the grill and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce so that it just simmers. Cook for 1 hour, then strain the liquid into a large bowl, discarding solids. Set aside 1/2 cup au jus to cool for the patties. Set aside remaining au jus to cool to warm for dipping burgers in later.

Stir together the mayonnaise, horseradish and grainy mustard. Refrigerate until needed.

Combine beef, 1/2 cup reserved au jus, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper in a large bowl. Mix well, but handle the meat as little as possible. Form 6 equal portions and shape the portions into patties the same size as buns. Refrigerate until needed.

In a large nonstick skillet, cook bacon on grill over medium heat until crisp and done. Drain on paper towel lined plate, then wrap in foil to keep warm.

Discard grease in skillet. (It’s not necessary to wipe it clean.) Add 1/4 cup olive oil to skillet over medium heat on grill. Add 1 medium sliced onion and cook until transparent. Add both kinds of mushrooms, stir, then let cook in a single layer for about ten minutes or until golden brown, stirring only occasionally. Add 3 tablespoons butter, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 teaspoons chopped thyme and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook until butter is melted. Add 1/4 cup wine and cook until liquid is thick and mostly evaporated. Keep warm.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place patties on grill rack. Cover and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 5-7 minutes on each side for medium. Divide cheese onto each patty during the last few minutes of grilling until melted. Brush the cut sides of the rolls with 4 tablespoons melted butter. Place the roll halves on the outer edges of grill rack and toast cut sides.

To assemble, spread the toasted sides of the rolls with the mayo. Divide the mushroom mixture onto the bottom half of each roll. Place a cheese-covered patty on the mushrooms, followed by 2 slices each of bacon. Place roll top halves on burgers.

Now, drag those burgers through the river. Carefully dip each burger into the au jus sauce for 5-10 seconds, holding it with both hands if necessary to keep ingredients from coming out, flipping over to cover both top and bottom, and dunking in the perimeter of the burger. (You may lose a mushroom or two, but that’s okay. You will not use all of the au jus sauce.) Serve immediately and with lots of napkins.